I'm on the road, facilitating a workshop on controlling chaos, sitting in my hotel room and of course, learning. Watching videos on leadership. What else would a leadership trainer do on the road?
I started with a famous leader speaking and somehow wandered into this video by Drew Dudley. Honestly, I hadn't heard of Drew Dudley, but you should. He's inspiring. His ideas spark energy. I believe he does his best to live his values, and I love how he builds in the human element into his goals.
In the video he talks about values, about questions to ask in order to more earnestly live your values, and about making a positive difference, especially for people who so often go unrecognized and unappreciated.
Here's the video.
Yes, I know it's 17 minutes long - but go for it. Invest 17 minutes in this and you'll find a story you'll likely repeat and some insights you'll want to start using. I know I will.
You may have felt the hammer: often the first thing cut is training. Budgets are tough, productivity is leveling off, and turnover feels stabilized by a weak job market. So senior leaders, looking to get ever tighter on the budget, cut training dollars.
People leave organizations because:
1. They don't like their boss, and
2. They aren't trained what they are expected to do
You can get ahead of both of those problems - as a leader get the training that you need.
If your company provides it, great. If you're in charge of it, bring it in. If your company does NOT provide it, care enough about yourself and your people to get it yourself.
Have you ever achieved anything without first believing in it?
Whenever I have trouble believing in an effort, and whenever I doubt a goal, it becomes impossible to achieve.
I'm not one of those people so optimistic that I believe you can achieve anything you believe -- to me that's nonsense. You still need the skill. You still need the training. You still need the discipline.
But even with all the skill, training, and discipline in the world you also must believe that what you intend is possible.
And then -- and then go do it.
Pick sensible goals (or go ahead, pick wildly impossible ones!) and then believe.
High performance leaders are constantly looking ahead while grounded in the now.
It's not either/or. It's not a choice between tactical and strategic or leadership and management. High performance leaders do it all and they do it all at once: looking ahead (what's the big picture and how does that shift our direction now?) and staying grounded in the now (how do we take care of the team?)
Do you tactics align with your strategy? Are you attending to both today?
Does everyone on your team know what you expect from them?
Beyond the performance evaluations, beyond the goal setting sessions, do you have regular conversations with them about what you expect?
High performance leaders make their expectations clear in many areas, including:
goalsvaluesmissionvision (where do you see your team sometime in the future?)interpersonal relationships (how do you expect team members to get along?)communication standardsrules, regulations, agreements
You can likely think of several other areas where people simply do not know what your expectations are unless you tell them. So tell them: early and often. Give people half a chance to meet your expectations by letting them know what they are.
-- Doug Smith
Communicating for results is a constant learning experience. I've had conversations when I was absolutely clear about the message and yet a misunderstanding occurred. One of us heard something the other person didn't say. Or did. It depends on who you ask.
I've learned to be more clear, and still it can happen. I take heart in the belief that I'm still learning. How many times does a clarification need to be clarified? How will I know for sure that what I said was what was heard? Which of my own personal filters are altering the meaning of the conversation.
That's why leaders need training in communication. It's also why high performance leaders realize that it takes LOTS of communication -- not just a quick chat or an email -- to reach shared meaning. It's intentional, it's deliberate, and it's hard work.
I like this quote from Brian Tracy. Yes, communication is a skill that we can learn. And, it's a skill that we must keep learning.
I do it all the time. Ideas creep into my mind that do me no good at all. Ideas like "you're not good enough" or "no one cares about your art" or "the only thing that matters is money." Bad, or more accurately incorrect ideas.
With so many good ideas available surely we can let go of a few bad ones.
I'm willing to work at letting go of useless ideas. How about you?
High performance leaders are constantly leading new projects, asking people to change and MAKE changes. These are seldom easy tasks.
Getting people to change requires their support. If you've ever been in charge of a project, you know that all too well. People resist. People dig in. People ignore your pleads to please pull in the opposite direction. That's because a new direction is hard. It's fraught with unseen obstacles and traps. It's unfamiliar. Change stinks.
But change is necessary and it is fundamentally what high performance leaders do: drive change. Where do you start?
Start with agreement. Get people to agree on as many things as you can leading to whatever change is necessary. Get them to agree to listen. Get them agree to talk. Get them to agree to the need and POSSIBILITY of change.
Agreeing to possibilities smoothes the way, AND -- agreements lead to better possibilities. High performance don't have to come up with all the best ideas, they simply mu…
Don't ask me! That's the kind of humility-busting question that invalidates whatever answer I could muster up. Centered? Sure. How centered? It depends on when you ask.
High performance leaders stay centered. They come off their center sometimes, sure. We all do. No one is perfect. And being centered does not imply perfection. It implies control. It conveys flexibility. It denotes composure in the face of pressure.
High performance leaders maintain their composure in the face of unrelenting pressure. You know, the world that we're in.
Staying centered is a practice, a discipline, and perhaps a bit of good fortune. I'm working at it everyday. How about you?
Leadership. There is no one key. It is a series of skills and strengths. Leadership seems born in some people but must be developed and - can be developed.
Leaders collaborate - they work together with their teams and with their peers.
Leaders cooperate - they cooperate with regulatory bodies, with higher ranking leaders, with peers, and even with customers. They find ways to be helpful, to serve without being subservient. It's where the science of leadership meets the art of leadership.
Leaders prevail when they continue to develop. They continue to develop through the early times, through the easy times, and through the tough times.
Leaders develop technical skills (budgeting, staffing, recruiting, solving problems) and they develop core skills. The five core skills that I find most compelling and useful are clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion plus the ability to center yourself in the use of each of those four.
- clarity: knowing your sense of direction and also your …
I know what it's like to work in a profit-at-any-cost environment. Money rules in that kind of culture and steers decisions so that they all bend toward making ever more money.
Is that always the right choice?
Of course not. It's hard to take another view, especially working in that environment, but until we as a people start making decisions based as much on what is right, and fair, and true, and human we will not long prosper.
It's hard to be a whistle-blower and report a wrong-doing. We can even be wrong in our perception of what is wrong that we are reporting. We should still report it. We should say what must be said but that begs not to be said. When we hold our words because the ramifications are bad for our career, for our wallet...how can we be sure that any of our decisions have any integrity at all.
Say the hard thing. Report the violation. Keep your integrity intact. Lies told by silence are often the most troubling and trouble-provoking. Silence can be not on…
What do you think your biggest goal says about you? Is it noble enough? Is it ambitious enough? Does it define something vital about you?
We all have goals. The most responsible among us write those goals down and create action plans to achieve them. I've learned to be careful about my goals, because as I am defining them, guess what? -- they define me, too.
Same for you.
Set goals that you are proud of. Set goals that push you to achieve them. Set goals that make this a better place to be.